A look at what didn’t happen last week


Associated Press

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out; here are the real facts:

Not real: “Second parkland shooter in custody”

The facts: Reports about a second shooter at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last week started with a tweet from an account falsely purporting to be former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. The account was later suspended, and police said that suspect Nikolas Cruz acted alone in the massacre that killed 17 people. And some social media posts last week wrongly identified Cruz as a man seen wearing a T-shirt with Communist leaders’ images. The man’s attorney said his name is Marcel Fontaine and he “suffered a lot of harassment” over the misused photo.

Not real: “4 million Democrat votes were just declared fraudulent”

The facts: A voting machine company didn’t produce 4 million fraudulent Democratic votes; the company doesn’t even exist. The story posted by the site thepoliticonews claimed that Novus Ordo Sectorum Inc., owned by the Obamas and other wealthy Democrats, made machines that disrupted elections in 11 states. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission says that no voting-machine maker by that name exists. Novo Ordo Sectorum, Latin for “New Order of the Ages,” appears on the $1 bill on a seal frequently cited by conspiracy theorists as a sign the U.S. is taking over the world with an authoritarian government.

Not real: “CDC funded study shows the vaccinated shed 6.3 times more flu virus, just by breathing”

The facts: The doctor who headed this University of Maryland study dismissed a chiropractor’s conclusion that the study says getting the flu vaccination makes a patient spread the virus more. Dr. Donald Milton says people who are not vaccinated for the flu are much more likely to transmit the virus than those who are.

Not real: “Trump refuses to let Jesus into his heart after learning he’s from Nazareth”

The facts: A Christian satire site falsely quoted President Donald Trump as calling Nazareth a “hole” and included an unrelated photo of the president from a year-old interview. The Babylon Bee, drawing a comparison between Trump’s reported remarks earlier this year about African countries, alleged that Trump said he wouldn’t accept Christianity anymore because he thought the town where Jesus came from was poor and undesirable.

Not real: “Philip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ brand marijuana brand cigarettes now for sale in four U.S. states”

The facts: Pot may be easy to find in at least nine states, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the Marlboro marijuana cigarettes to hit stores. Philip Morris said the company is not marketing marijuana products, despite a widely shared false story fearing a doctored, green-colored photo of a Marlboro pack of cigarettes, with packaging reading ‘Marlboro CANNABIS.’ The false story has circulated for years, with the latest iteration saying the ‘M’ brand is for sale in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

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